History of Orson Pratt and the "Oldest Home in St. George":
The centerpiece of the Green Gate Village Historic Inn, this large, two-story home with, adobe walls 18 inches thick, was built by Orson Pratt in 1862. Orson Pratt was one of the most remarkable men in LDS Church history. He joined the church in Kirkland, Ohio in 1830 at the age of 19 and was immediately called by Joseph Smith to serve the first of several missions. He was the first Elder's Quorum president in the Church and subsequently an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wherein he served for the balance of his lifetime. Orson experienced first hand the hardships, persecution and many forced relocations of the saints. After an arduous trek across the great plains and Rocky Mountains in the summer of 1847, Orson and Erastus Snow were the first two men to view and enter the Great Salt Lake Valley in advance of Brigham Young's wagon party. Because of Orson's mathematical expertise he helped lay out the plat maps for that and other Utah cities to follow. In addition, he was an author, editor, publisher, scientist and an educator. He crossed the continent many times on horseback, wagon, and rail, and crossed the Atlantic Ocean sixteen times on three-masted sailing ships, taking the gospel message to the British Isles.
In 1861 Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow were called by Brigham Young to lead a group of 309 families to relocate to Southern Utah and establish the city of St. George. Their mission was to grow cotton, raise sheep and even silk worms in order to supply the dozens of new Utah cities to the north with much needed raw materials for fabrics. (These materials were then in short supply due to the Civil War as well as their remote location in the mountain West.) The beautiful home he built still stands today and is the oldest home in St. George. Approximately two years after it was built, Orson Pratt was called by Brigham Young on yet another proselytizing mission. This time to Austria, where they were denied permission to preach by the government, and thence again to England where he managed the perpetual immigration fund. Orson subsequently traded this home for one in Salt Lake City belonging to Richard Bentley.
Orson Pratt is best remembered by some as a theologian with deep insight who was so enthusiastic about the restored gospel that he often expounded upon groundbreaking doctrine that had not yet received the approval of President Young. However, President Young had great respect for Brother Pratt as exhibited by the fact that, in 1852, it was Orson Pratt who was selected by Brigham Young to publicly announce to the world the Church's doctrine behind the practice of plural marriage. Orson was known to have had five, and some said seven wives. During the latter years of this controversial practice, public records were not always accurate, perhaps even purposely vague. However, more recent studies of available records now indicate that Orson Pratt had a total of ten wives, but not all at the same time. He was the father of over 50 children, the basis for a progeny that now totals approximately ten thousand.
The Bentleys ran a general store in the lower, West side of the home (now the Daniel Suite) and raised silk worms in one of the upper eastside rooms (currently the Christin Suite). The son of Richard Bentley built the Victorian style home just next door to the East in 1876. The inventory of the Bentley store was eventually sold to Thomas Judd.
The home was used for decades as an apartment house and eventually fell into disrepair. Today the Orson Pratt home has been fully restored and modernized. It has seven bedrooms currently configured into four guest suites. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (#83003199), is protected by the Utah Heritage Foundation and is designated a St. George Historic Landmark.
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